It’s prime football time. But just because you’re headed to a playoff game doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your healthy eating dreams (or that you have to smuggle granola bars into the stadium!). Emily Navarro, RDN, senior manager of health and wellness at Freshly shares her top picks for less guilt-inducing yet still touchdown-worthy foods:
Grilled chicken sandwich
Skip the fried chicken tenders and go for a grilled (not fried!) chicken sandwich instead, says Navarro. You’ll get the protein you need to power through the whole game—without the extra saturated fat and sodium. “Just be sure to go easy on calorie-heavy toppings like mayo,” notes Navarro.
Veggie or turkey burger
If a cheeseburger is your go-to, consider swapping it for a veggie or turkey burger. “Both are leaner than the typical beef burger,” says Navarro. It’s also a good idea to skip the cheese: Two slices of American cheese pack over 200 calories and over 900mg of sodium—almost 40% of what you should have in an entire day, explains Navarro.
It might seem strange to eat sushi at a game but lots of stadiums have it as an option. For a satisfying meal, Navarro suggests ordering a California roll and a side of edamame, which packs protein, good fats, and fiber. She also recommends avoiding rolls with unhealthy toppings like “crunch” and spicy mayo sauces.
Look for ones that have around 200 calories, and nix the bun if it comes with one. Find a vegetable or fruit to eat on the side instead. “The vitamin C from the fruit or veg will help protect against the formation of harmful substances called nitrosamines, which can form from nitrates found in cured meats like sausage,” Navarro explains.
No matter how tempting, avoid any “value deals” and order a small popcorn with no extra butter instead. “The popcorn is typically already popped in butter so there’s no need to add more,” says Navarro. It’s usually well-salted, too, so you shouldn’t have to add any extra.
This go-to snack is full of protein and heart-healthy fats—just be sure to share. “The bags they sell are made for sharing so pass it around,” says Navarro. “Otherwise, it’s easy to mindlessly munch your way through 800 calories!”
These tiny seeds are loaded with healthy unsaturated fats and protein, which help keep you full longer. They also pack lots of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, folate, and B6. Just be sure to keep portions in check (go for about 1/4 cup of seeds). “Though this snack is full of good fat, calories can add up if left unchecked,” says Navarro.